Thursday, February 08, 2007

Just Give Your Tribe a Sheikh

Iraqi blogger Sooni answers a set of questions posed by a blogger friend named Paul. Here's the last question in the most recent set:
Paul: If there was a single thing you would hope us, as Americans, could learn about your culture which could help us understand the situation, what would that be?

The Arabic and Islamic culture in general is a tribal one based on Winning and Losing. They don't believe in middle grounds like sharing and the only language they understand is force. That’s why dictatorships and families ruled the countries of the area very well. Democracy will need long years to be adapted in the region because in comparison with dictatorship democracy will appear like a weak and tolerant way of ruling. For example, the Sheikh of the Tribe won't accept to be ruled by his subjects, so the more powerful you appear and control things they will fear you and respect you, the more tolerant you be they will disobey and despise you. This kind of mentality is what we are fighting in Iraq right now hoping we can make them change.
From all the reading I have done over the last four years on the Middle East in general and Iraq in particular, Sooni's assessment rings true. As I have argued before, Saddam Hussein was not an aberration; he was, in fact, a "pure product" of the tribal mindset that dominates the region.

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